The Project

The historic preservation of the Old Swedes Cemetery, Chester, Pennsylvania. It is the final resting place of John Morton, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence. This historic cemetery is in dire need of preservation. PSSDAR will preserve this American treasure. We will also support educational programs for local school children to learn about  this historic site and their community.

About John Morton

John Morton, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, John Morton’s father died before he was born. When he was about seven years old, his mother remarried. John attended formal school only for about 3 months; most of his education he learned from his stepfather, who taught him many subjects, including law and surveying. John Morton would grow up to become a farmer, a surveyor, lawyer, and judge. He married Ann Justis, and they would have five daughters and four sons. Morton began his political career in 1756 as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, serving in the Assembly for 17 years. He was one of four Pennsylvania delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. In 1774, he was elected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, and the following year, to the Second Continental Congress.

Although most Pennsylvanians in his home area were Loyalists, Morton favored independence. Of the seven Pennsylvania delegates to vote for independence on July 2, 1776, two voted against it, two voted for it, and two did not vote, leaving the decision to John Morton. His decision to vote for independence swung the decision of the colony to independence. As a result of his vote, friend, neighbors and even relatives turned against him. By early 1777, he became extremely ill, suspected to be tuberculosis. As he lay dying, he predicted that one day, people would realize that his voting for independence was “the most glorious service I have ever rendered my country.” John Morton was the first of the 56 signers to die, dying at his birthplace on April 1, 1777.

Biography text by Kit & Morgan Benson